Houston QB Keenum undecided beyond knee surgery

Case Keenum limped into the team’s auditorium on crutches

Tuesday, a bulky brace protecting his mangled right knee.

The senior quarterback for Houston was closing in on several

NCAA career records when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament

trying to make a tackle during a 31-13 loss at UCLA on Sept. 18.

That came a week after he suffered a mild concussion in a victory

over UTEP.

Keenum will undergo knee surgery on Wednesday, and he’s putting

off any decisions about his future beyond that. He hasn’t ruled out

trying to play one more season with the Cougars by asking the NCAA

for a medical exemption. Or, he could turn his sights to next

year’s NFL draft.

”No matter which way I go, I’m going to push to get healthy as

quickly as I can,” he said. ”It really doesn’t matter where I’m

playing. That’s not really the pressing issue right now. The

pressing issue is getting healthy.”

NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt said Keenum’s stock won’t drop

because of his injury, as long as doctors clear him in time for

next year’s combine. And Brandt is confident that Keenum would get

selected if he comes out.

”Obviously, the guy has something going for him,” Brandt said.

”Is he going to become a great player? I don’t think so. But I do

think he has the traits that lead to success, and I think he could

possibly do it.”

One of the big lures for Keenum returning to school is the

chance of becoming the NCAA’s most prolific all-time passer.

He has 13,586 yards passing with 107 touchdown throws. He’s the

fifth-leading passer in Division I-A history and needs 3,487 yards

to eclipse Tim Chang’s all-time career mark (17,072). He’s 28 TD

passes shy of moving past Graham Harrell’s career record (134).

Houston coach Kevin Sumlin has tried to give Keenum as much

information as possible as he mulls his options. Sumlin added that

he’s told Keenum to make a decision only for himself, and not

factor in how it will impact the team.

”In these conversations, you have to be very open and very

blunt,” Sumlin said. ”He has done so much for this program and

for the University of Houston. I told him, ‘Don’t worry about that.

You don’t owe us anything. This decision needs to be based on

what’s best for you.”’

Keenum says he’s been inundated with calls and text messages

from friends and family, from youth pastors to former coaches to

players who’ve suffered the same sort of knee injury. Among them

was Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin, who tore his right ACL in

the third game of the 2009 season, underwent reconstructive surgery

and is playing again this season.

”He had some great words of encouragement,” Keenum said,

”just kind of giving me a heads up of what’s coming, how to

approach rehab and how to come back stronger. He obviously did, and

I plan on doing the same thing.”

Keenum said he just finished reading Drew Brees’ book, ‘Coming

Back Stronger,’ and thinks he’ll read it again as he goes through

his tedious rehabilitation. Brees had shoulder surgery after the

2005 season, joined the New Orleans Saints and led the team to a

Super Bowl win last season.

”He talks about coming back stronger, that adversity is

opportunity,” Keenum said. ”Obviously, I’m going to push as hard

as I can, where I’m allowed to push. You see guys all over the

country, in all different sports coming back from injuries.

”It’s just kind of depends on the person, it depends on how

tough you are,” he said. ”I’m going to see how tough I am. It’s

going to be a challenge, but I’m going to get through it

stronger.”